A Blog About Squat, Deadlift, and Hip Thrust Form

By August 17, 2010 Strength Training

Whenever I begin training new clients, I rarely approve of all aspects of their squat and deadlift form. I ask all my online clients to send me videos of their squat and deadlift form and my heart always goes out to these dedicated lifters who have undoubtedly been trying very hard to improve their form, to no avail. Most are trying to pound square pegs into round holes. Most individuals don’t possess an adequate understanding of squat and deadlift form and don’t know how to position their bodies to maximize their leverages and stability. I find that with minor tweaks I can often get someone squatting and/or deadlifting much better instantly. Many say to me, “Wow, that’s how it’s supposed to feel” after learning proper form.

Put simply, even the best powerlifters and Oly lifters who squat and pull in their sleep still have to work on their form year in, year out, so you can never really just “put it on auto-pilot.” Good lifting takes time and practice.

In this blog I wanted to show three videos that will seriously help out your lifting form on lower body lifts. I’m going to show squat, deadlift, and hip thrust form as I believe that they are the three most important lower body lifts. Without further ado, here are the three videos!

Squat

Deadlift

Hip Thrust

I hope you find these videos useful!!!

zoesmith

26 Comments

  • Daniel says:

    Thanks for the instructionals!

  • Thanks for the videos Bret.

    I like that you recommend to keep the neck neutral-good stuff.

    Keep in mind that they can move their eyes independently of their head. Most people seem to benefit from eyes up, but it will vary. I keep my eyes more down until I pass my knees and then move my eyes up. Have them play around with it for the best results. There are neurological reasons for eye movements, but in general look where you want to go or want the bar to go.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
    http://www.ExtremeHumanPerformance.com

  • Yep, head neutral – agreed. Good point with the eyes Mike. You should see the squat/DL form of the high school football players I see. Head is looking almost straight up in the air from what their football coaches taught them. And like Mike, I tell them to use their eyes to see where they are going once they get to a certain point in the DL.

  • Bret, I also use the “make sure you can read you shirt in the mirror,” cue. Works well. Although sometimes I find some people just have a poor “feel” for picking up cues/getting themselves into proper position w/ certain exercises. So I don’t always worry about the head neutral thing on the first or two attempts with light weight. Once I am 100% comfortable that they feel comfortable w/ spine neutral and some of the other cues, THEN I worry about them “tucking” their chin. (again, this is only the case w/ some people however)

    Good videos Bret!

  • Adam says:

    Bro that was awesome !! On the Deadlift video @ :22 seconds you killed me with the exaggeration of a deep breathe !! Love the Videos Homie !

  • Dave says:

    Great instructional post – bookmarked!

    I find people greatly underestimate form training. If I’m on travel for business and only have access to the hotel weightroom I make it a point to focus on goblet squats and other functional/form improving movements.

  • David Ratcliffe says:

    Mixed feelings. Good to get this info out there to the masses. Not terribly practicable, although not because it is not practical. Squats and deadlifts rely heavily on inner drive;you’ve really got to want to get better at performing them. I think people need to relax more when they lift. Non of this massive emphasis on extension of the spine. Just relax a bit. Most people look like they’re trying too hard when they’re performing these lifts. Relax. Look at coan, oh the serenity. Now, don’t get me wrong, the technical apects of these lifts, like all lifts, should be high-lighted, just not written in stone. You can’t really teach this stuff. Once a lifter realises this stuff they’ll be less likely to find these instructional vids helpful. By the time people realize the importance of these videos, it’ll be too late. A serious lifter will look at this stuff and think, i wish i saw this when i was starting out. For a lifter to put this stuff into practice when it is most important, is like hitting the lottery. By the time a person realizes that technique matters, they’ll preobably have to undo years of crappy techique. These vids make me like Bret Contreras intentions, but they’re like finding a winning lotto ticket on the ground. Guys like Rippetoe are extremely rare.

  • Marcus says:

    You mentioning/promoting some special barbell padding in one of your videos. Where can one buy such padding, as the one’s on our gym is sometimes a bit painful when performing glute bridges and hip trusts.

  • Bret great videos.

    Your deadlift was spot on. I agreed 100% with everything. I think I will e-mail this videos to some of my clients.

    What it is with teaching the eccentric, and a good chin tuck!?

    Thanks Bret,
    Robbie

  • Joanne says:

    A question from the pink side…I’m keen on strength training but have previously been a dancer so have long hamstrings, glutes and a very flexible back – you talk about the effects of short hams on deadlifts but I wondered if there was anything to note for people who have possibly too much flexibility available for strength training.

    My particular thought is that I can do a straight leg lift from the floor with the spine/neck alignment that you show here but as i get heavier with the weight my hamstring tendon attachments (ischial) get sore and prevent further work.

    Should I create the shape that you show here, or is using my full range OK?

  • Chris says:

    Great tips. Looks familiar…

  • PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    What’s your take on the Dr. Squat videos?

  • kdavis27 says:

    Great post! I know that the short time I was able to train with you in person, you really helped me tweak my squat (minorly) and deadlift (majorly). What help most was creating a conscious awareness of my movement. I was doing things in my lift that I were completely unconscious- perhaps out of natural comfort. Now when I perform these two lifts, I do so away from a mirror and lift completely based on awareness.

  • Erik Petersen says:

    Bret,

    Do you suggest squatting low between the legs if you can’t maintain a neutral spine as most people begin to tuck their tails at some point in the decent and flex the lumbar spine? I look for the “tuck” and stop them short of that if anything more than body wt. is used.

    Erik

    • Erik, it depends. I use a lot of different variations and the pelvis usually only tucks with full squats. I might have them box squat one session, front squat to parallel another session, and full squat another session. I don’t think it will kill them to go into a little bit of pelvic tuck and lumbar flexion, but only if it’s infrequent and the PPT/lumbar flexion isn’t too severe. If you cue them to try to prevent the tucking and they actively try to fix it time in, time out, then the full squat could actually be “corrective” over time in this respect. It’s good to get people aware of these kinematics anyway. Good question!

  • schnarf says:

    Rippetoe also says to look down, Simmons/Tate say straight ahead. I go with straight ahead, bcz if you look down there may be tendency to go forwards. Also, looking ahead (in the mirror) helps your spatial awareness. To correct cervical spine you can keep your head straight ahead AND bring the chin in by shifting the head back. I also don’t like rippetoe’s vids, I watched a few on squats and I didn’t think the instruction was correct on every point. I think Tate/Simmons are the best out there for technique and assistance, pretty much everything thing to do with lifting heavy really.

  • schnarf says:

    Oh, I didn’t thank you Bret for the vids- thanx! What sort of weight relation is there between hip thrust and deadlift 1rms?

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